“If only it was the picture who was to grow old, and I remain young. There's nothing in the world I wouldn't give for that. Yes, I would give even my soul for it.” Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray.
While reading The Picture of Dorian Gray, students can relate to many of the timeless themes of the novel, however, much instruction is still needed to contextualize the Victorian period so that students understand exactly from what the Aesthetics were rebelling.
However, nothing is more relevant to teenagers today than the notion of eternal youth, even though, if one was to believe Hollywood, which I don't, they are right now reaching the peak of their own beauty.
Today in class a student balked at the novel's premise, "Why does Dorian care so much about aging, anyways?"
Her question will lead us into our next class which will explore aging and beauty in contemporary society beginning with Renee Zellweger. Ironically, as I googled how to spell her name, there appeared an article comparing her to Dorian Gray that was recently published by Huffington Post. I can, however, stick by the originality of my lesson plan without fear of plagiarism because Zellweger is just an addendum to what I did last year.
The students will learn about plastic surgery, the costs associated, and how it's a growing practice for both men and women. Zellweger will be the hook, as I show students the Twitter feeds and ask them what they have heard about the controversy surrounding her "makeover." We will discuss why she felt the need to reconstruct her face, and if there is a double standard for men and women when it comes to aging and plastic surgery.
Then we will talk about other factors that accelerate aging. Dorian Gray's portrait ages due to his sins. However, why do others age? One answer is stress and we will look at a Washington Post feature on how President Obama has aged since he took office.
Class will end with them aging a portrait of themselves, at which time we will return to the question: "Why does Dorian care so much about aging, anyways?" The goal will be for them to answer not just from the text, but also from their own perspectives.